I’m about to do something my Momma taught me not to do: tell you how I voted.
I didn’t vote for Trump. I’m one of those heart shattered “liberals” half of my friends on Facebook have been complaining about today. I’m having trouble being positive and living in a world where fear and hate win.
That sounds a bit dramatic. That is where I am today. But I promise I’m trying.
Here’s the thing. I was raised in the South by some pretty seriously religious, traditional, hard working white folks. I understand conservatism.
I also believe we can (and should) disagree about policy and how to improve our flawed systems while maintaining some shared core values, like how to treat our fellow humans.
Trump threw those values out the window. All of them. He said awful things about women, and Mexicans, and Muslims, and the disabled, and, and, and. And I just couldn’t get past them. ALL the things. That he actually said. On record. They were blinding to me.
So blinding in fact can I be honest and say a part of me has at times wanted to “unfriend” my friends who voted the other way? I haven’t. And I won’t. And I know it would only further the very divide that got our country here anyway. But. Ugh.
Half of my friends and fellow Americans had a different perspective. Some were unashamed in their full support of Trump. Then again many of my friends and family who voted for him did so “with a heavy heart.” There seemed to be a “but” in their approval of his ability to lead our country. As if the divisive things Trump has said and done are not a direct reflection of who they are as humans. It has been important for me to recognize that separation and to choose to believe that collectively we are better than the awful things one person said. Us liberals, we are tolerant people you know.
Then I go to work at a public school where I hear the things the kids are saying. They’re doing their best to make sense of what they hear on the news and at home. But it gets ugly. Fast. The jokes and smears, and the fear and hurt from kids of color. That’s where my tolerance ends.
Our president elect has said and done things that are unacceptable in the halls of our country’s schools. We celebrate anti-bullying month and have zero-tolerance policies. Yet, here we are. Tolerating racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia from the soon-to-be leader of the free world. People chanted “BUILD THE WALL” at his rallies and this morning he claims to want to heal and unite us. The irony overwhelms me. My hope is that he proves those of us that voted against him wrong.
I am raising two probably straight, probably Christian, upper-middle class, white males. They’ve been dealt a pretty good hand. We talk very little about politics in our home (and they don’t watch the news) but often talk about kindness and inclusiveness and humility. Tonight as I tucked them into to bed, I asked if they had any questions about the election or things they’ve heard at school. Both of them asked if Mr. Trump was really going to build a wall “around Mexico.” I replied with a question. “What do you think about that?” “I think it’s silly,” my oldest said. “If I were elected president I would tear down that wall.”
My plea to you, whoever reads this, is to tear down the walls our country is trying to build right now. Bridge the divide. Be tolerant of our differences but not of fear and hate. And please, for the love of everything Holy, talk to the children. Teach them to lead their thinking with kindness. I promise you we are more alike than we are different.